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The Sunday Five: Free Agency Begins This Week

And I thought last year was weird with the lockout. It's even weirder with Peyton Manning hitting the open market.
And I thought last year was weird with the lockout. It's even weirder with Peyton Manning hitting the open market.

"The Sunday Five" is a loosely-titled piece where I talk about five NFL- or Browns-related topics related to this past week. In today's edition, we take a look back at some major headlines from this past week, as well as the start of free agency this week.

Bullet_mediumThis has been a crazy week in the NFL, starting with Peyton Manning officially parting ways with the Indianapolis Colts. Not only did the Colts part ways with Manning, but they have basically gutted their entire roster. Gone are Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, Melvin Bullit, Gary Brackett, and most importantly, Curtis Painter (/sarc). They kept Robert Mathis, but Dwight Freeney is on the trade block. I understand that the Colts are in re-building mode with Andrew Luck, but don't you also have to have somewhat of a supporting cast around him? This is going to be a long re-building process for the Colts, and unless they hit on all of their draft picks year-after-year, I see them remaining in the cellar of the AFC South (along with the Jaguars) for awhile.

Bullet_mediumIf you believe in the butterfly effect, then Manning's neck surgeries are the reason that Cleveland "lost out" on Robert Griffin III. If Manning had been healthy as ever, the Colts would never be in position to draft Luck, and even if Washington moves ahead of Cleveland, the Browns are going to end up with either Luck or Griffin. Such is life. Not only does Tom Heckert have time to adjust his draft plan, he has a couple of days to re-consider his mindset on free agency. You never know -- maybe the Browns will end up reaching out to Matt Flynn after all.

Bullet_mediumThey won't be reaching out to Manning; Heckert made that quite clear last week when he spoke with the media. The latest reports indicate that the Manning sweepstakes are down to two teams -- the Denver Broncos and the Arizona Cardinals. It doesn't matter where Manning goes: it will be very unusual (at first) to see him in another uniform. He is also bound to make that team an instant contender. Both Denver and Arizona seem like good fits for Manning with the coaching staffs in place. In Arizona, the Cardinals already had a similar "great" run with veteran Kurt Warner at quarterback. In Denver, John Fox had no problem changing the entire offense midseason to adapt to the strengths of his quarterback. Call me crazy, but I'm guessing Fox wouldn't mind handing the offensive keys over to Manning (something I imagine a guy like Pat Shurmur would not have wanted to do with his quarterback).

Bullet_mediumRunning back Peyton Hillis will test the free agent market starting Tuesday, and I'm hoping another team does not decide to overpay for him. Cleveland should "up" their offer to him a little bit, but make it incentive-laden. That can server as a motivator for Hillis to produce, and it also allows the Browns to cover themselves in case he has another season similar to this past year. I remain unmotivated by the thought of Cleveland taking Trent Richardson at No. 4 overall. If the past is any indication, if Heckert doesn't get what he wanted (i.e. he lost out on Griffin), maybe he will trade down to around No. 15 and pick up an additional first rounder next year again. After all, there are some pretty good pass rushers that Cleveland could use if they move down a little bit.

Bullet_mediumBased on the feedback so far, I think we're going to try to re-do at least a few of the picks from the DBN Mock Draft so far. I think that this is how things will go: later tonight or tomorrow, I will post an open thread for everyone who has picked so far, starting with the No. 2 overall pick (with Washington now). Everyone will post in the comments section, in order, if they have updated their picks based on potentially new selections that were made until we get up to No. 10 overall. Then, I will go back and re-edit the old posts with "UPDATES" about modified selections due to the real-life trade between St. Louis and Washington.